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Triple Threat: The Ballet, Symphony and Opera "Dream." 

The production, a joint undertaking by the Richmond Ballet, Richmond Symphony and Virginia Opera, ran April 29-30.

During the overtures to both acts, a live video feed from the orchestra pit was projected onto a scrim onstage, allowing the audience to clearly see the musicians and conductor Smith himself, who, guiding the symphony's crisp performance of Mendelssohn's music, led us into a world of beauty, confusion, fairies, and love lost and regained.

Choreographer/director William Soleau crafted a sprightly and charming production with pretty dancing and pantomime that, while rarely plumbing the depths of expressive or technical power, elicited plenty of laughter from the audience. Jenna McClintock, as the lovelorn Helena, chased her beloved Demetrius (Jesse Bechard) back and forth across the stage with comic determination until he, under the spell of Puck's misapplied love potion, ran right back to her.

Carter performed Puck adorably, though Soleau could have given her less pedestrian creeping-about and more dancing to express her mischievous character.

The integration of music, voice and dance in this collaborative production was for the most part successful. The Richmond Symphony Women's Chorus flanked both sides of the stage, and twice the chorus from the Virginia Opera took the stage along with the dancers. In the first act, during the lullaby for Titania, the chorus and two soloists (Lisa Archibeque and Shoshanah Marote) stood en masse, their presence overemphasized by heavy floor-length cloaks despite their clear, rich voices. Their second appearance, in Act 2, was more successful because they were dispersed across the stage; the fairies danced among them, transforming them into a forest of trees.

Both Reid and Avery made excellent narrators, although their amplified voices were occasionally jarring. They read sections of the play as the dancers mirrored their words with pantomime. Some, such as Anne Sidney Davenport (Hermia), moved more naturally to this accompaniment than others.

Overall, this multifaceted production succeeded in both evoking the richness and charm of Shakespeare's comedy and celebrating the lovely ribbons of music in Mendelssohn's score. It made me wish for more collaboration — and a little more risk-taking — among the big three. S
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